Traditions and customs: what do you need to know about Egypt before you go?
Heat non-stop, beautiful sea, hot sand on the beaches and stunning diving in the Red Sea. Egypt likes to receive tourists, and they reciprocate the sunny country. And although local resorts are waiting for tourists with open arms, you should be aware of the peculiarities of behavior in this country and the laws by which the Egyptians live. Our selection will help you to understand what the Oriental style of life represents.
Traditions and clothing
Even in the heat of the beautiful half, it is not advisable to wear a bathing suit outside the hotel, as well as abuse mini skirts and tops. The Muslim nature of the country does not allow liberties in clothing to either the indigenous population or tourists. Men also should not relax: shorts should cover their knees, a T-shirt or shirt can only be removed on a private territory, and Egyptians can be regarded as a sign of poverty.
It is worth being careful during the shooting. Not all locals will like that you photograph them without permission, some may even ask for money. In Egypt, in general, they like to pay extra for their services in all areas: taxi drivers, hotel employees, waiters in a restaurant.
Do not get the camera and in local markets, in stores. People with gadgets here are considered rich and can raise the price of the product you are interested in. By the way, in order not to disappoint the seller, actively bargain, so you can sell the price in half, or even more.
Twice a day, all the locals call for the sound of muezzin to prayer. Be prepared for this and the fact that during Ramadan, the streets become deserted, and all government structures are open two hours a day.
If you made an appointment for an Egyptian, do not be surprised if he is late. Locals live in a measured rhythm – they make decisions for a long time, do not tolerate turmoil.
The first thing you need to know when checking into a hotel is that in no case should you drink tap water. Use it for brushing your teeth is also not recommended. Water from the tap here is not intended for these purposes, and even for washing fruit – it is better to use bottled.
If you make friends with the Egyptian family and invited you to visit, be prepared that the owner will be dressed in a festive outfit. In Egypt, it is not customary to meet guests in bathrobes and slippers, as it is not customary to set the table for those who have come. You will be offered only tea or coffee, while the owner himself will serve it. The wife is not allowed to do this, because in this case, she will serve other men, which is contrary to Arab laws. But the family will treat the sweets as a gift with gratitude, and you will receive approving points to your account. Egyptians will not refuse from simple souvenirs, but it is better to make sure that your gift has practical value – such gifts here are especially appreciated. If at last decide to take pictures with the owners of the house, it will be good form to send them a couple of photos later.
Topics for conversation
Even in the most friendly circle, do not start a discussion about the role of the sexes in society, wars, Egypt’s relations with neighboring countries, and the contrast between the west and eastern countries. You can ignite a discussion in which your thoughts may differ from the views of the owners of the country. You should not mention that you do not like something in the rest. The Egyptians love their country and piously honor it, therefore they may be offended.
Superstitions and gestures
The Egyptians believe in a higher power and, wherever possible, hang amulets. From the evil eye, fortunately, attracting money, good luck, for children – amulets from local residents a huge variety. Even a harmless compliment they can perceive as an attempt to jinx it.
We must remember that the shoes must be removed before entering the premises. But you shouldn’t demonstrate to local residents the soles of their feet – they will regard such a gesture as disrespect and may even be angry.
Greet, serve food and drinks, as well as gesticulating in Egypt should only right hand. The left one is considered “unclean” in the country, and you will strongly offend the Egyptian if you do not take this rule into account.
The basis of Egyptian cuisine are legumes, barley, wheat and vegetables. These ingredients have been considered traditional for most dishes for many generations. During a trip to Egypt, keep in mind that most of the indigenous inhabitants – vegetarians. Their meals can consist of fritters or flat cakes, porridge, lentils, and vegetable snacks. All dishes are prepared from fresh ingredients, seasoned with spices, and served with traditional Baladi bread — an aromatic tortilla of wholemeal flour, often with a filling. Meat snacks can be found in almost every restaurant. For the traditional Egyptian meal, as well as for the restaurant menu, characterized by spicy additions. Eggplant dip served with garlic and olive oil, and with it bring hummus and sesame seeds paste. Do not deny yourself the pleasure to try grape leaf rolls with rice and minced meat – cold or hot.